While a bench press is generally considered the foundational base for chest exercises, several chest exercises can be done to strengthen and build the chest muscles without use of a bench press. Many individuals exercise at home and lack the equipment needed to perform certain exercises, several of which can serve as substitutions for chest exercises performed on the bench press.
Pushups are a functional chest exercise. The exercise is considered a primary chest movement but also engages your triceps and shoulders. To complete the exercise, lie in a prone position with your palms and tip toes evenly supporting your body weight. Keeping your body straight, lower your body to the floor by bending your arms at the elbows. Once your chest or chin has reached the floor, push your body up until your arms are fully extended but not locked. Place your feet on a higher platform to make the movement more challenging. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Standing Chest Flys
This exercise can be performed using cables or resistance bands. Perform this exercise by grasping the two opposing cables or resistance band handles. Bend slightly forward at your waist, keeping your abdominal muscles tight and back straight. Press both arms in front of your chest until your elbows are straight but not locked. Slowly release your arms back to their starting position, keeping your wrists in line with your forearms. Repeat this exercise for three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Dips are a multijoint movement that will primarily train your chest while also targeting your triceps and shoulders. Most gyms will have dip bars available, as will city and community recreation areas. To perform a dip, mount the bars and place one hand on each bar. Keep your arms straight but not locked and your shoulders in alignment with your hands. Lean slightly forward and lower yourself by bending at the elbow until you feel a stretch in your chest. Push your body up until your arms are straight again and repeat. Do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Floor Dumbbell Press
A bench is not necessary to perform a dumbbell press. You will begin this movement by lying on the floor with dumbbells, kettlebells or other weighted equipment in each hand. Your knees should be bent with your feet on the floor. Start by holding the weights over your chest, arms extended. Slowly lower the weight by bending at your elbows and stop once your arms reach the floor. Push back up by extending your arms to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of this exercise.